Identity

unnamed-8-e1565948768491.jpg


As lead dancer Caitlin Taylor stepped onto the Greenside stage, she found herself challenged by some sort of device which seemed to both attract and repel her as she roved over the stage. She was soon joined by an entourage of six other excellent dancers who immediately began to throw each other and Caitlin around to spectacular effect. They were to leave Caitlin and return to her often throughout the show, when her quieter moments she would offer up a dialogue. Her speech was personal and real, covering all the abhorrent things that had happened to her in her early teens. A period of life when protection was greatly needed, yet a time when you wanted nothing more than to cut the bonds. Illustration came when she stood upon shoulders and trusted herself in the arms of her fellows by a courageous dive.

unnamed.png

The performance took us to wonderful highs and the most poignant lows. In her solitary moments she would play songs on the guitar; that she had composed especially for the show. When her unhappiness came to the fore she would appear fragile, like she was made from porcelain very easy to crack, evidence of past damage done. But her strength was emphasised in each expressive scene when we saw her willingness to take us on and say why these years had fallen so far for her. She performed as if in bandages of white which contrasted with the black worn by her entourage, serving to set her apart in achieving her terrible transformation.

I found it enthralling to watch all the transformations – sometimes terrible – that Caitlin went through in this very physical show; transformations that we all go though in life. Mixing all kinds of theatrical dancing, the troupe portrayed the passion and strength of the character as she came through like some sort of warrior figure. In the end she did find her identity and though in tatters triumphantly sang that she knew little in life but had the potential of teaching it. Everything she held seemed like something holy until the last dance turned things around in a display of celebration.

Daniel Donnelly

four-stars.png


Identity

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Aug 12-17, 19-24 (16:10)

SOR092704 - IDENTITY - 30x20 Double Crown .jpeg

www.ctcdancecompany.com

Doodle Pop

Doodle POP1.jpg


Assembly One
July 31 – August 25 (10.50)


The Fringe is here! I woke up on the morning of the 31st July 2019 as eager as the day on which I was to receive my first kiss. In the Edinburgh Festival season; East meets West, Song meets Dance, Black meets White & of course Art meets Writing. The latter is the Mumble’s contribution & we love it! Our first show was Doodle Pop from Korea, which began at 10.50 in the morning. Waiting in the audience were quite young children & their smiling parents, some of whom were returning after experiencing it last year. ‘Its one of the few shows you can sit through without being in agony,’ said one young mother, ‘& the kids loved it!’

Doodle POP2.jpg

2019DOODLEQ_AAU.jpg

The overall effect of Doodle Pop reminded me of The Beatles, when the whole is far better than its constituent parts. We are given a blend of space, sound & images, concocted by an electric drumkit, a keyboard, a binary projector show of light & dark, & two ‘actors’ wielding markerpens like light sabres. These together are pretty basic on their own, but combine into quite a spell-binding experience. Like the jamming of a dead good jazz band. The finale is also something straight from the uncorking of a bottle with jinn in it; that is a genie jinn, not the drinkable gin – but there is defintitely a sense of drunken-ness to the proceedings; in a good way tho’, the perfectly silly way which is infectiously impossible to ignore.

The cast is young, & talented, & together create simple story structures & arcs to please the little ones, burnished with an image here, a sound there, a puppet at the side & an animation bouncing across the snow-white screen. Of the latter, the variant game of ‘Pong’ was sublime, while the ‘on-off’ battle was chaplainesque. The two actors – actresses actually – are perfectly well-trained in vocal & facial accompaniments to their craft, while holding a superb torch to interacting with the kids, smashing through inhibitions with effortless demeanors. A perfect show for the kids this Fringe, about the age range of 2-7 – 8 at a push – but for we adults it is also an extremely enjoyable experience.

Damian Beeson Bullen

four-stars.png

Void

Mele Broomes in Void at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: Tom Forster


V/DA and MHz in association with Feral
Summerhall
August 14-26


Part of the Made in Scotland showcase, VOID is one-woman dance performance based on J G Ballard’s Concrete Island, and reimagined from the perspective of a Black woman, Angela. Concrete Island was the second in an urban disaster trilogy with a white, male, middle class protagonist facing his internal psychological demons after a car crash. The environment remains harsh and sterile, as Angela is trapped alone in an industrial landscape rendered harsh by inspired lighting and sound effects inextricably entwined with the frenetic, disturbing choreography. Ballard’s cool prose has been replaced by a vibrant physical retelling of entering the terror of a psychological void. The script is not just flipped, but turned inside out, showing us what could be termed the ‘negative’ of the privileged, patriarchal supremacy; the internalised trauma of the negation of self, as she grapples with the pain of fully confronting her reality. Yet ‘negative’ is as complex a term as ‘void’, as the show explores. If you are familiar with any of Mele Broome’s previous dance performances such as Grin, you will know to expect a highly conceptual piece. The Character and Concept Consultants are Ashanti Harris, an artist, dancer and activist who is one of the co-founders of Project X Dance Company along with Mele Broomes and Rhea Lewis. V/DA itself is made up of Broomes, Claricia Kruithof and Sabrina Henry. Adura Onashile is a playwright and performer known for Expensive Shit and HeLa, the story of Henrietta Lacks. The innovative MHz scenography is integral to the show, produced by Megahertz duo Bex Anson and Dav Bernard. The dramaturg is Lou Cope and the overall producers that form Feral are Jill Smith, Kathryn Boyle and Conner Milliken.

With a team like this, multilayered complexity is a given. In the production, the experience of marginalisation is pushed to the extreme, and we are pulled along for the ride. Broomes explores the possibility of agency in the placing of oneself fully outside that system of oppression, depending on how you use the experience of being on the empty, neglected hinterland. The first thing is to find a spark of life within, and test the environment without, expressed in tentative, incredibly controlled finger movements after the initial car crash. We’re already invested in her finding her lifeline, and we feel her urgency as she attempts to get attention from passersby. We recognise the futility of imploring those who cannot see you for help. The piece has also been influenced by text The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study’ by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten which sees the potential for revolution in inhabiting the despised chaos that forms the shadow of the values of the Enlightenment. Placing oneself necessarily outside the system to allow for physical and psychological survival, including the space for independent thought, has a long tradition in maronnage in slave societies in the Americas and also the strength of commonality that comes from each other in those communities. What happens in a post industrial society where our lives are marginalised and also atomised? It takes determination to move yourself away from that mental space where reason and logic continue their own mental colonialism. A conversation is impossible with those who are indoctrinated into the superiority of their system. As Bob Marley sang, no one but ourselves can free our minds.

In this reimagining, Angela remains an architect.  As she is forced to the margins of a decaying environment, this allows the clarity to imagine and reconstruct a better future. Not just the physical environment, but the inner landscape of oneself. As Angela violently fights and struggles within the darkness of a black dustbin bag, she is able to metamorphosize within her chrysalis. Demolishing the inner architecture of colonialism must precede the process of reconstruction. The deliberate unravelling of the ‘false self’ Fanonian mask of white femininity symbolised in her heels, impotently hanging from the wire fence, allows for the rekindling of real strength and power. As her high heels come off, Angela must reground herself by reclaiming her identity on her own terms. To the sound of the steady beat that has come down through the generations, Angela draws strength from Black women’s historical struggles for freedom in order to reclaim her present identity on her own terms. The architect of her future takes the scraps of her false costume to create a head wrap before our eyes with an air of self-determination and defiance. By self-regulating the presentation of herself, the headwrap becomes a potent symbol of the internal reclamation of power. How deceptively fertile the void can be.

Broomes will play with the audience in breathtaking physical contortions, such as moving into a headstand into a scorpion pose. While she does this, she disconcertingly manages to look at the audience in an intense stare that somehow bizarrely dares the audience to reflect on their own reactions at observing the working out of her own trauma. Physically, Broome’s strength and control are mind-blowing. Her long braids are pulled, jerking her head to and fro as if her strands of hair are antennae trying to make sense of fleeting, intense vibrations in the environment. The density of the movements conveys the resistance inherent in moving to incoherent and impossible demands of the exterior. The feeling of immersion in a harsh industrial landscape and the chaotic energy we feel from the erratic choreography would not work without the industrial soundscape. Urban sounds are sampled, and the movements against the fence create the disturbing soundtrack and industrial noise pollution which helps to keep us all on edge like in the townscapes we inhabit in our everyday lives.

Thought-provoking is an overused, almost throw-away phrase, but this dazzling performance triggered a tsunami of thoughts. As our society is based on a philosophical culture of white male rationality necessarily detached from body and feeling, then non-verbal communication through such a powerful dance performance is the perfect way to step outside these all-encompassing modes of thinking and seeing. It strikes at the heart of the most cherished and celebrated foundations of our unbalanced society, which is what ironically makes VOID’s true effect beyond words.

Lisa Williams

five-stars

Circus Abyssinia : Ethiopian Dreams

download (3).jpg

Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows
Aug 19-20, 22-26 (15:00)

Stagecraft : 4.png Performance : five-stars.png Choreography : 4.png

Unknown.jpegCirque Abyssinia tells the autobiographical story of brothers Bibi and Bichu, who dream of performing in a circus. The man in the moon hears their wishes and transports them to the fantasy world of the circus… Here Bibi and Bichu and other members of Konjowoch Troupe embark on heart in your mouth stunts as the two youngest members are hand vaulted high into the air and caught again by human cradles; somersaults, flips and diving from one human cradle to another, they were received with rapturous applause..

Next in the show were a group of female contortionists, who danced to Ethiopian rhythms and bent themselves in every way possible in serpentine movements, they stacked themselves on top of each other and even supported themselves by their mouthes. The audience were captivated. Next was a colourful display using discs spun by feet and arms, amazing juggling of lit up sticks by the troupe and the original and now grown up Bibi and Bichu, and a cheeky clown who the kids loved.

The grand finale was a Chinese pole which the troupe took turns to climb up and perform tricks sliding down. You could not fail to be impressed by this talented and energetic group who so joyfully perform their circus skills. Great for adults, kids and lovers of circus!

Reviewer : Sophie Younger

four-stars.png

JoJo Bellini : Crash Bang Cabaret

2017JOJOBEL_SU.jpg

The Stand Comedy Club 2
Aug 17-27 (22:05)

In 2003, JoJo Bellini was in a major car accident after which she was inserted with all manner of metal poles & said she’d be in a wheelchair at 40. That never happened, & instead she’s jiggying it up at the Edinburgh Fringe in a rather mental hour of ‘cabaret.’ This essentially is her singing some classic tunes in various attires, interspliced with rather warm anecdotes as to her life since the accident. A karaoke queen whose voice isn’t exactly amazing, but which is more than made up for by her enthusiasm, JoJo provides a flouncing flagon of breathless & eye-popping entertainment. I rather felt like one of those old guys in the 60s sipping my mild ale just as a group of flower power girls waltzed into the pub in miniskirts & ordering white wine spritzers.

JoJo comes across like a horny Valkyrie, whose principle message in life – & one she preaches –  is to live your life to its fullest & have fun along the way. Deliciously daft, I’m like ‘is she taking the piss, is she taking the piss as an artform, or is she in fact quite serious about what she does.’ The end result is something quite astounding, not brilliant, but definitely watchable. Welcome to Edinburgh JoJo Bellini, a bubbly-loving, doctor-defying damsel, whose late-night antics are a perfect start to a boozy night on the town.

Reviewer : Damo
four-stars.png

Djuki Mala

DJUKI MALA - promo image 3 - Sean Young

Assembly George Square Theatre
Aug 16-20, 22-27 (16.30)

Ten years ago, a youtube clip was posted from a community called Galiwinku, located on a small remote Island called Elcho Island, at the very top end of Australia. It was of some native aborigines doing Zorba The Greek, & it went rather viral. Its protagonists loved to dance, y’see, of among whose number, Baykali Ganambarr gave a recent interview to the Mumble in which he described his family’s love of dancing; ‘When I was a kid I saw my family dance, my uncles, brothers and father mainly traditional in ceremonies. Then I started to get inspired by my uncle who performed with Bangara. I started off with traditional, then came pop ’n’lock, break dance, hip hop and pretty much everything else. Being a kid in small community and watching the first DJUKI MALA dance I wanted to be with this company, in fact I needed to be there.’

Djuki Mala was the troupe formed after Zorba went viral, who have gone on to tour the world. A decade later their show is a slick piece of physical theatre played out in front of & inbetween wee films which tell the story of the group  also their heritage. ‘Despite the past we are still here,‘ says someone from Elcho Island in a film, & for me, the start of the show is the best, when I felt as if I was a colonial inspector on her majesty’s business, sitting beside some tribal chief while his bravest warriors before the ancient dances of the tribe. Amazing stuff, with a recorded didgeridoo – liek a bee on crystal meth – entwining with the shamanic chants of some Aboriginal elder, & the five painted boys piercing the stage-air with spear & limb : an amazing treat.

But then things changed. They’re right little vibe merchants are Djuki Mala, & have decided to present dance routines sprung from their love contemporary music; disco, hip-hop, old musicals, etc. & proceeded to give us a mish-mash of material. The quality was not in question, but the subject matter was a bit Butlins, & incongruous to say the least. The show had rapidly ran away from its proud roots & entered something underneath contemporary dance, a showcase of populist entertainment which of course pleases the masses – & if that’s what you want they do it more than fantastically well – but for me things had gone wildly awry. Yet, we are ALL members of the global village now & Djuki Mala are supreme representations of that. Both proud to be who they are & excited to be able to absorb international culture, repackage it & present back to us it for our entertainment. is to be commended, but I personally I wanted more Aboriginal material, for everything else they did is just a youtube clip away.

Reviewer : Damo
four-stars.png